Friday 30 September 2022

'The Producer's Workshop Ensemble in Japan' by The Producer's Workshop Ensemble

'The Producer's Workshop Ensemble in Japan' is the phenomenal new album release from Matthew Rivera's The Producer's Workshop Ensemble outfit.

If you've been fortunate enough to have your ear to the ground, then the name Matthew Rivera may well already be familiar to you.  Through his Stay The Course Records Bandcamp page, Rivera has released a stunning collection of singles, EPs and full-length recordings over the years as a part of various collaborative ensembles and through productions for a line-up of friends and collaborators...  

There's the quintessential dusty analog sound of Linden Troy's soul-drenched singles 'Rise & Shine' and 'Cares of the World', the ecclesiastical 'Rights of Love' by The Jazz Saints of Chicago, and the brilliant multi-faceted Bless The Mad project which paired Rivera alongside Ibrahem Hasan for an album that celebrated 60s psychedelic soul as much as 90s hip-hop and spiritual jazz.  A wonderfully diverse and innovative album that added to the glorious treasure trove of gems amassed by Stay The Course Records over the years.  As part of his Producer's Workshop Ensemble however, Rivera has quite possibly delivered his defining piece of work as his boundless talents have been turned towards creating a contemporary jazz masterpiece that is an absolute joy to listen to.

Born out of his time in Tokyo in 2020, as the story goes, Rivera assembled a small studio's worth of instruments and recording equipment from visiting second-hand stores and then secured studio time where possible to hone and develop his new sound.  Rivera's limitless talents see him credited throughout the album as playing everything from drums to flute, synthesizers, percussion, pianos... the music serves as a real testament to his own unwavering passion to create and perform bringing the music throughout the album up to staggering heights.

Vocals on many of the album's tracks are elegantly tackled by Cat Boys collaborator Yuima Enya who really works beautifully alongside Rivera's productions; productions that are further bolstered by a team of mostly Tokyo-based musicians including guitarist Tetsuta Otachi, Yuki Nakada on koto, Takehide Hashimoto on tenor sax, Kyotaro Hori on flugelhorn and Lito Brown on flute and sax who all breathe scintillating life into the project's eleven tracks.

And it really is scintillating life - a wonderful musical concoction that presents a fresh-faced contemporary take on jazz seen through the eyes of the dusty analog aesthetic and a golden era beat maker's passion.  Matthew Rivera genuinely deserves to be heralded for bringing his distinctive magic to a project that succeeds as an extraordinary achievement for himself and Stay The Course Records.

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